Scots Pine tree identification

The Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris is a conifer native to the Scottish Highlands, Europe and Siberia. It is self-seeding on heathlands and is also found in plantations, parks and gardens. Scots Pine tree identification – 2-needle pine, with short blue-green needles and orange-coloured bark on the top half of the tree.  The Scots Pine is one of only three Conifers native to Britain, the others being the Yew and the Common Juniper. All the others have been introduced. There are over 100 species of Pine worldwide. They are evergreen conifers found throughout the northern hemisphere from arctic tundra to Central America and Southeast Asia. Their leaves are in the form of needles, normally in bundles of two, three or five.

scots pine tree

Tree in November

orange bark

The top half of the tree has orange bark. This is the easiest way to identify the Scots Pine

2-needle cluster of Scots Pine

This is a 2-needle pine. The needles are blue-green or yellow green, short (5-7 cm) and twisted. On old trees the needles may be less than 5cm but some young needles may be up to 10cm


The bark at the base of the tree is cracked into orange-brown scales, which may darken to purple in old age.

 male pollen cones

Male ‘flowers’, after releasing pollen. Photo taken in June. Male ‘flowers’, also known as pollen cones, are formed at the base of shoots

female  flower

The female ‘flower’ is formed at the tip of a shoot in May. This is a close-up of the tiny female ‘flower’, which looks like a miniature cone. 

scots pine new cone

The ‘flowers’ are bright red in May and then turn purple when pollinated. The ‘flower’ then develops as a cone. This photo of a new cone was taken in June.

scots pine cone

A ripe cone in November of its second year. Each diamond-shaped cone scale has a central ridge. The cone opens to release seeds in the spring of the following year, nearly 2 years after pollination.